'Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar's Revenge' review: Noisy, jarring, nothing new
When Gore Verbinski's Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) premiered around 14 years ago, Captain Jack Sparrow, the always drunk and lecherous pirate that Johnny Depp molded out of slurring musician Keith Richards and hopelessly amorous skunk Pepe Le Pew, was an enjoyable novelty.
Four meandering sequels later, he has turned into a repetitive shtick, a nearly intolerable diversion to the fact that all the films he's in are nothing more than goofy cartoons bloated by all the special effects Mickey Mouse money can buy.
The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise has always subsisted on offbeat stunts set in the high seas. (WATCH: New scenes, plot points revealed in 'Pirates' trailer)
The biggest stunt of them all is of course Sparrow who is often relied on by the films to keep their stories interesting even if they are essentially going nowhere. He is the star in the middle of a charmless black night, the bombastic aberration that provides most of the entertainment value that is almost impossible to squeeze out of the vanilla-inspired romance between Orlando Bloom and Kiera Knightley's younger mariners. He is the lifeboat of a ship that is sinking by virtue of self-imposed tedium.
In Salazar’s Revenge, directed by the filmmaking duo behind seafaring epic Kon-Tiki (2012), Sparrow predictably commits again to save another humdrum spectacle show.
The story's unsurprisingly a rehash.
The young lovers this time are spawns of familiar characters. Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites), son of Bloom's Will, has promised his dad, who is doomed with barnacles on his world-famous perfect mug, to retrieve the legendary trident of Poseidon to undo the curse. Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario), whose lineage is a spoiler of sorts, has the map to the trident's location.
Sparrow again helps the couple, who with his wit and silliness, adds mettle to the mission, inviting again a foe from his troublesome past in the name of Salazar (Javier Bardem), a zombified admiral of a Spanish fleet who has waited for years to have his titular revenge.
Keeping the movie afloat
Sparrow, unfortunately, is less effective now in keeping the blockbuster afloat.
It doesn't help that directors Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandburg have problems managing the film’s pace. If Salazar's Revenge isn't engaging its audience in sight gags and out-of-this-world shipboard battles, it slogs helplessly while laboring over uninteresting expositions and innuendo-filled banter.
The film plays out like a second-rate overextended Monty Python sketch. The film's best portions are when it abuses the franchise's absurdist slants. It is at its worst when it surrenders to blockbuster mentality and settles for noise and jarring effects.
While it isn't denied that this latest film provides erstwhile entertainment, it is somewhat a waste that even with 5 films in tow, the franchise hasn't graduated from being the cinematic extension of a theme park ride that was on its way to obsolescence had it not been for Depp's inventive antics.
It is quite amusing that the most memorable sequence in Salazar's Revenge has Sparrow robbing a bank.
Instead of simply going into the bank and stealing the treasures there like a normal heister would do, Sparrow has the entire bank's building dragged all over town by a couple of horses he manages to steal. While admittedly a better concept than an executed sequence, the spectacle is an insane riot by sheer bizarreness.
The punchline of the expensive joke however is that when they open up the lone safe that remained out of the hilarious destruction, what's inside is just a single coin. The joke can be seen as a reflection of the franchise, since the films are crowded with so much comedy, action, and pageantry and the reward for all those efforts is just some paltry trifle. – Rappler.com
Francis Joseph Cruz litigates for a living and writes about cinema for fun. The first Filipino movie he saw in the theaters was Carlo J. Caparas’ 'Tirad Pass.' Since then, he's been on a mission to find better memories with Philippine cinema.